Women’s basketball secures win at season home opener
Carl leads Eagles in points, rebounds in victory over La Salle
The AU women’s basketball team won 66-48 over the La Salle University Monday in Bender Arena to start the season with back-to-back victories. Junior forward Cecily Carl gave a standout performance, playing a total of 35 minutes and recording 17 points and seven rebounds.
AU (2-0) returned from a trip to Oklahoma, where they opened their season with a 72-67 win over the University of Tulsa. Monday's game followed a similar pattern to the Eagles' game against Tulsa -- neck-in-neck before the Eagles broke through in the second half with defensive play and quick, offensive action.
“I think all of us have in the back of our minds [the need] to protect home court,” Carl said following her high-scoring performance. She tied for the most minutes on the court with senior guard Emily Kinneston and junior guard Elina Koskimies.
Carl’s first shot – a layup – came over nine minutes into the game. From then on, she was a firecracker, making baskets (eight), grabbing rebounds and forcing turnovers.
Even while she was not playing, Carl was on her feet, cheering on her teammates from the stands.
“I think we came off a big win [in Oklahoma], which really boosted our confidence,” sophomore guard Katie Marenyi said. “We had some time to really bond as a team, too. The trip was great for us on and off the court.”
One memorable moment of Monday’s game was freshman forward Maddie Royle’s three-point jump shot with two and a half minutes left in the third quarter. Head coach Megan Gebbia put the freshman on the court exactly 60 seconds prior. This basket put the Eagles into the lead over La Salle, 41-40.
Royle has been making a name for herself with her explosivity, which fires up instantly when she steps on the court. During the Eagles’ game against Tulsa on Nov. 10, Gebbia put Royle in the game with two and a half minutes remaining in the second quarter, and the guard hit a three-point jump shot just over a minute later. In that minute and a half, Royle recorded two rebounds in addition to her three-point basket.
“Royle did the same thing in the Tulsa game,” Gebbia said. “She came in and she scored right away, and she hit the tying basket into the half. She’s our momentum changer. She comes in, she’s not afraid, and no matter how many minutes I play her, she finds a way to contribute.”
Against La Salle, Royle scored five points in four total minutes.
2017 will be Gebbia’s first season coaching a roster exclusively made up of players her and her staff recruited after she was hired in 2013.
This season is Gebbia’s first having handpicked each athlete on the roster herself. She mentioned in preseason that she hoped to develop closer bonds with each athlete to improve the team on the court, in the locker room and with the coaching staff.
The team’s busy schedule to start the season has impacted her ability to take time and connect with the athletes, Gebbia said following the game. She thinks that the relationships that the athletes have been making as a result of travel have been impacting the team’s performance.
“The bonding happens naturally when you’re on the road, so it was nice to have that as our first trip,” Gebbia said.
The team plays next Thursday, Nov. 16 at the University of Delaware at 7 p.m.